Tropical storm Urduja wasn’t in the same category as the more powerful typhoons, but, still, it has inflicted at least 31 deaths and 49 people missing, as of Monday afternoon’s official tally.
(Above) Satellite snapshots of Tropical Depression #UrdujaPH west of Palawan Island, after cutting through the Eastern Visayas, northern Panay, and crossing over to Busuanga before curving toward Taytay, rendered in animation sequence by NOAA-MTSAT service.
This figure was based on reports by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Biliran local government, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque disclosed.
Roque said during a press briefing at the Naval State University in Biliran that about 62,309 families and 270,777 individuals were affected by the tropical storm, based on data collated so far from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).
Biliran was among the worst hit provinces, along with Leyte, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Romblon.
Of the 31 reported deaths, 23 were from Biliran, with five others from Leyte, two from Samar, and one from Eastern Samar.
Of the 49 missing, 33 were from Biliran, 11 from Eastern Samar, three from Leyte, and two from Romblon.
Tropical storm Urduja triggered landslides and severe flooding in many regions in the Visayas, causing not just human casualties but also serious damage to private property, roads and public works.
At least 17 landslides were logged by NDRRMC, while four bridges were rendered impassable in Biliran, Leyte, and Samar.
The storm first made landfall at San Policarpio, Eastern Samar Saturday afternoon, December 16.
It then made five landfalls, since, in Mobo, Masbate; Sibuyan Island, Romblon; Malay, Aklan; Cuyo Island, Palawan, and the latest in Taytay, Palawan.
According to the state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Urduja is expected to leave the Philippine Area of Responsibility sometime Tuesday.
Damage reported in the Visayas
Tacloban City, Ormoc City, and the province of Northern Samar have already been placed under a state of calamity.
In the province of Biliran, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol said the initially estimated damage to agriculture and fisheries was booked at PhP30 million.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar also said two major bridges in Biliran were severely damaged, and DPWH would need 30 days to fully repair them.
Romblon province suffered an estimated P6 million worth of damage to roads, including Tablas Circumferential road, Sibuyan Circumferential road, and Romblon-Cogon-Sablayan, as reported by the regional office of the DPWH.
Meanwhile, Villar also said Maharlika Highway in Samar and roads from Leyte to Biliran have been sufficiently cleared and are now passable.
Biliran is still experiencing a total electricity outage, but Department of Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella revealed that emergency repairs aim to reenergize by December 21, Thursday.
Even the famous tourist destination Boracay Island in Aklan was not spared from severe flooding.
(Above and below) Flooded Boracay Island resort center and commercial establishments. News5
In Ormoc City, more than 90 percent of the rice fields were flattened or inundated, the city’s mayor Richard Gomez said in a radio interview.
Above, click and watch video clip showing aerial view of flooded areas at Tzu Chi Village, Brgy. Liloan, Ormoc City, Leyte. Video from the Facebook page of the Ormoc City Government.
The DOE also said the Unified Leyte Geothermal power plant sustained severe damage.
Seaports and airports in the Eastern Visayas have scrambled to operational status, according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur “Art” Tugade.
Nominal damage was reported regarding telecommunications facilities in Biliran, Eastern Samar, and Leyte, according to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) OIC Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr.
About 44,000 families in 608 evacuation centers were being assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), according to agency’s undersecretary Emmanuel Leyco.
Resupply and more relief goods are on their way, Leyco added.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Eduardo Año and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Rey Guerrero said the police, military, and other law enforcement agencies are continuing their search and rescue operations, as well as fast tracking the delivery of relief goods to affected areas.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Sec. Piñol said farmers who lost their crops due to disasters can avail of the DA loan facility, Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program.
Aside from the rescue operations, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) would also be deploying personnel to conduct post-disaster need assessments in cooperation with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).